Best Laptops For Developers, Coding & Graphic Design in 2020

1. Best Laptops for programming & coding

It is impractical to use a normal laptop for programming. Therefore, there are various things that you need to consider when looking for the best laptop for coding. Having the right laptop helps to speed up processes which in turn increases productivity.

As a programmer, you will need a laptop with sufficient power to perform and execute tasks. However, due to the rapid advancement of technology, there are thousands of best laptops for coding to choose from. Even though many of them can handle basic coding applications, they might not serve your needs. Therefore, it is imperative to know what to look for.

  • What type of laptop to look out for your roles

Programming is intensive work and programmers spend most of their time on their computers. A laptop is very convenient for this group of people because they can work from anywhere at any time. The best laptop for developers should have features such as a comfortable keyboard, long battery life and good screen size.

The keyboard of a programming computer should be comfortable. Even though most people don’t consider the keyboard, it is a huge consideration for programmers. For coding purposes, choose a keyboard that has numerical pads. Also, it should have a smooth travel and soft keys. The layout is also an important consideration. Some keyboards have odd layouts where the Fn and Ctrl keys are repositioned. Programmers who work at night or in low-light may consider backlit keypads.

Battery life is also another significant factor to consider. Most programmers prefer to work in a quiet and serene environment. If you will be working near an electrical outlet, the battery life will not be your concern. However, if you are a freelancer moving around, then you should consider a laptop with a longer battery life.

  • Storage

Storage is one of the vital features to consider when choosing a laptop for programming. Hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD) are the two common types of storages found in computers. Each storage type has its advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to weigh both options.

Hard drives come with large space even though they are slower than SDD. On the other hand, SSD storage has less space and are more expensive. Since speed extremely important in programming, it is recommendable to choose a laptop that has an SSD storage. Ideally, you will need at least 256GB SSD for basic programming tasks.

  • Memory/ RAM

Another major factor to consider when choosing a programming laptop is the memory. The computer requires memory to store the information it needs to function. In programming, the memory stores operating instructions needed to run applications.

For instance, when you have finished writing codes, you need to run the code as a program. The computer uses the memory to store instructions to direct the program. In layman’s terms, RAM acts as a bucket that holds instructions for the software program.

A laptop with sufficient memory will allow you to run various programs simultaneously without any hitches. Even though 8GB memory is ideal to handle basic programming tasks, it is advisable to get a laptop with 16GB. It is important to note that there are different types of RAMs used in laptops. For instance, a DDR4 RAM is much faster than a DDR1 RAM.

  • Processor

When choosing the best laptop for programming, the central processing unit is a very crucial factor to consider. The processor acts as the brain of the computer. It handles almost every aspect of function in the computer. The processor coordinates various processes and if it is not working properly, other components are rendered useless. Regardless of your programming work, you will need a powerful processor that will support your needs.

For many years, Intel and AMD have been the main producers of computer processors. If you intend to use your laptop for intensive programming tasks, you can consider the Core i7 processor. On the other hand, the Core i5 will still handle some basic functions.

There are still other processors with lower power such as the Core i3. However, even though these laptops are cheap, they have limited power. Basically, the higher the cores, the more superior the processor in terms of speed and performance.

  • Graphics Card

Although graphics card is crucial in gaming computers, it does not play an integral part in programming. In fact, a low-end graphics card is enough even for rigorous programming tasks. Nowadays, most processors come with integrated graphics which are still suitable for programming purposes.

  • Operating system

There are various options for programmers when it comes to operating systems. Microsoft Windows, MacOS and Linux are the most common. The Windows OS is the most prominent because it is cheap and still able to provide sufficient processing power for programming. In addition, the Windows OS supports most programming languages. On the other hand, the MacOS is suitable for programming but it is pricey. The new OS X is receiving a lot of accreditation from the programming world.

2. Best laptops for web developers

Toshiba Portege Z30-C-138

The Toshiba Portege covers almost every need of a web developer. It comes with Ethernet and RGB ports, fingerprint scanner, backlit keyboard, three different ways to click on the trackpad, and many other features that are ideal for web development. All these features are fitted in a slim and lightweight magnesium alloy case.

It has a very unique design that is appealing to the eye. The exterior has a subtle etching that is made to imitate a wood grain. On the other hand, the interior is donned with black bezels and keys that provide a striking and attractive look. In addition, the dark silver color contrast effectively with the black keys.

Toshiba Portege
Toshiba Portege
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In terms of performance, the Portege has a fast processor, a large SSD, and a 16GB RAM. What’s more, it has a battery that manages 11hours making it ideal for programming and coding tasks. Depending on your budget, you can either choose the Core i7 or the Core i5.

Pros

  • Exceptional connectivity
  • Sufficient battery life
  • A full HD IPS screen

Cons

  • Insufficient input peripherals

 

Dell XPS 15-9570

Programming on a larger screen such as the Dell XPS makes a lot of sense compared to using a smaller screen size. A larger screen provides sufficient working space. For instance, you can fit as much text as possible on a single line making it easier to run applications. Also, enough space allows you to split the screen and run two different tasks simultaneously.

This laptop has a design that makes it look premium. It is wrapped with an aluminium unibody shell that dons a carbon fiber keyboard. Even though the keyboard lacks a number pad, it is well spaced with soft keys. The functionality of the keyboard is complemented with a touchpad that has a matte glass surface.

Dell XPS 15-9570
Dell XPS 15-9570
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The Dell XPS is powerful enough to handle any web programming task. It comes with a choice of three processors i.e. Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. The memory is also sufficient with either 8GB or 16 GB.

 

Pros

  • Large 4K screen
  • Excellent performance
  • Sufficient memory

Cons

  • Middling audio output

 

Asus Zenbook UX-430

The UX-430 is considered the most affordable laptop in the Zenbook UX series. It features a Core i7-8550U processor which is not only powerful but also power efficient for web programming tasks. Also, it has an SSD storage that comes in three variants- 128, 256 and 512GB which will depend on your budget.

Nowadays, laptop manufacturers are competing on putting large screens on small devices. Asus has not disappointed in this regard with its 80% screen to body ratio. The Full HD screen is coated with an anti-glare which helps to enhance legibility even under direct sunlight.

The body of this laptop is made from anodized aluminium which contributes to the lightweight at only 2.8lbs. Apart from the lightweight, the UX-430 is pretty slim for a 14-inch device that houses a Core i7 and a GeForce MX150 GPU.

Asus Zenbook UX series
Asus Zenbook UX series
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Although the keyboard lacks a number pad, it is very tactile. The keyboard is complimented with a centrally located touchpad with a glass surface. On the downside, the fingerprint scanner is placed on the surface of the touchpad which renders the area around it unusable. However, it is fast and accurate for web programming tasks.

 

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight and slim
  • Available in a variety of colours
  • Responsive touchpad

Cons

  • Lacks a quad-core option

 

3. Best laptops for App Developers

Apple MacBook Pro

Apple has made its name for producing some of the best devices in the market. For the past few years, the MacBook Pro series has redefined the laptop space with its exceptional performance that is combined with a visual appeal. Recently, the company released upgraded notebooks that comes with 8th generation Intel processors and other impressive features that make it a perfect match for app developers. It is a great choice for working with Xcode for the development of iOS and MacOS applications

As with its other devices, the new MacBook Pro has a design styling that is stunning. It has an aluminium finish with an option for space grey or silver. The aluminium casing makes the laptop very light and slim.

The display is another impressive feature of the new MacBook Pro. It comes with a True Tone display which essentially adapts to the lighting conditions of the surrounding environment. This helps to reduce the strain on the eyes making it an excellent option for app developers.

The display produces a brightness of 502cd/m2 which is more than sufficient for both brightest and low light conditions. On top of that, the retina grade resolution ensures that everything on the screen is crisply detailed.

MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro
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The base model is equipped with an 8th generation Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD. These features make the MacBook Pro to be one of the most powerful machines. In fact, this is enough power to handle any amount of computer programming work at impressive speeds. It has an impressive 2.6GB/sec speed that puts its rivals to shame.

 

Pros

  • Outstanding speed
  • Long battery life
  • Attractive design
  • Retina display

Cons

  • Slightly expensive

 

Google Pixelbook

The Pixelbook comes with a powerful processor, a premium design and compatibility that challenges its competitors like the MacBook Pro. It is not only the best Chromebook on the market today, but it is also arguably the best 2-in-1 laptop. This laptop is a natural choice for Android developers due to its integration with Google software and services. In addition, it is highly affordable compared to its competitors.

It features a slimline chassis that is 10.3mm thick which is made from aluminium and white plastic. On the inside, it has a 12inch display with a resolution of 2400×1600 pixels. Additionally, the 3:2 shape provides an ample screen size compared to the conventional widescreen display. The 235 PPI pixel density has a sharper resolution compared to the retina display on MacBook Pro.

Apart from having a backlit keyboard, the keys are adequately spaced. Also, the keys provide a subtle and deeply satisfying click that is different from most laptops in the same range. Below the keyboard, there is a trackpad that is covered with glass. The trackpad is accurate with both single and multi-touch.

Google Pixelbook
Google Pixelbook
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The base model has a 7th generation Kaby Lake Intel Core i5 processors that are backed with a storage option of 128 and 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM. The top-end model comes with a 512GB storage, Core i7 processor and 16GB RAM. These processors are low-power and low-heat Y series chips eliminating the need for a fan in the meaning the Pixelbook models.

 

Pros

  • Full android app support
  • 2-in1 factor
  • Pixel dense display

Cons

  • Limited inking support

 

HP Spectre x360

2-in-1 laptops are gaining prominence in the programming world, especially in app development. The HP Spectre X360 is among the best hybrid machines with a utility of a standard laptop and usability of a tablet. It comes with an Intel Core i7 processor and a 4K display with a stylus.

Focusing on the exterior, the spectre X360 is perhaps the most appealing 2-in-1 laptops on the market today. HP has shed off the excess metal from every side of the laptop making one of the most portable devices. The exteriors of the new Spectre has been enhanced with a copper and a black paint job that HP refers to as ‘Ash Silver’.

It features a 13.3-inch full-HD display with extremely thin side bezels that compliments the 2-in-1 stunning design. Also, the display is adequately bright with excellent colour accuracy. This provides enough light to work even in low-lit conditions.

HP Spectre x360
HP Spectre x360
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On top of the incredible design, the Spectre X360 comes with a 7th generation Kaby Lake CPU where you have a choice of the Core i7 and Core i5 processors. This is backed with 16GB of RAM and 512 GB PCIe SSD storage. With these specifications, the Spectre X360 is suitable for app development tasks.

 

Pros

  • Gorgeous and slim design
  • Powerful processors
  • Thin bezels

Cons

  • Stiffer hinge

 

4. Best laptops for computer programming

Lenovo ThinkPad P1

The ThinkPad P1 is an excellent machine for computer programming. It provides abundant power in a thin and lightweight chassis. This laptop offers a computing experience that has been squeezed into a thickness that is close to an ultrabook. This makes the laptop extremely portable. In addition, the optional 4K display does not only have rich and vibrant colours, but it also has high sensitivity.

Arguably, it is the only computer in this range that features Xeon processors with up to 6 cores. It also has an Nvidia Quadro P200 GPU and up to 64GB of RAM. Furthermore, you can add up to 4TB of nVME SSD storage to enhance performance. These specifications make the Thinkpad P1 a great work station for computer programming duties.

Regardless of its slim size, the ThinkPad P1 has a variety of ports that will enable you to connect to almost any external component. These ports include a headphone jack, Ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 port, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports. On the downside, the ThinkPad P1 has the type-A USB ports instead of the current type-C ports that have been featured by most of its competitors.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1
Lenovo ThinkPad P1
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The three-level backlit keyboard surpasses most keyboards used in Lenovo devices. In addition, the keys have a soft touch and are well spaced with uniform travel across the whole keyboard. The standard six-row set-up and number pad make it ideal for computer programming.

Pros

  • Outstanding performance
  • Slim and lightweight chassis
  • Vivid Dolby 4K display

Cons

  • Poor battery life

 

13-inch MacBook Air (2018)

The new MacBook Air does not change the original design of the Apple Air series but it comes with new features and upgrades making it one of the best laptops for computer programming. This laptop has been upgraded with the Amber Lake processor, better display and a thinner and lighter design.

It comes with the 8th generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, and 128G SSD. Interestingly, you can opt to configure with more powerful features by upgrading the memory to 16GB and the storage to 1.5TB. It is important to note that these are the only upgradable features on this MacBook Air. However, the laptop is still an excellent choice for computer programmers.

The first MacBook Air that was launched in 2008 revolutionised the laptop industry. It proved that is possible to pack powerful features in a thin and light design. The new MacBook Air maintained the original iconic thin and light design. However, it is smaller than its predecessors making it more portable than before.

13-inch MacBook Air
13-inch MacBook Air
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The reduced size and weight on the new MacBook do not compromise on some of the important features. Even though the screen size remains at 13.3 inches, there has been impressive changes on the display. For instance, it has a retina display and a resolution of 2560X 1600 pixels giving it four times more resolution than the previous models.

Pros

  • Slim and light
  • Retina display with high resolution
  • Sustainable battery life

Cons

  • Slightly expensive

 

Dell Latitude E7470

The Latitude E7470 is a 14-inch productivity laptop that is slim and lightweight with a 3.4lbs chassis making it very portable. It comes with an Intel Core i5 processor that is capable of handling computer programming workload very efficiently. In addition, it has a snappy keyboard and long-lasting battery that is can go up to 9 hours.

It has a strikingly sleek and unique design. The design is complemented with a chassis that has been crafted from a magnesium-alloy that provides the sturdiness. The base unit and the lid is connected with two well-attached hinges that are covered with aluminium. Moreover, the lid is super soft making it is pleasant to touch. However, it is susceptible to fingerprints.

Dell Latitude E7470
Dell Latitude E7470
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This laptop has ports at the back which is rare in most modern devices. Another striking feature of the E7470 is the keyboard. The keys are firm with a conical curvature that provides a better typing experience. In addition, the arrow keys are smaller and shifted towards the bottom to make them more visible. Also, there is a two-stage illumination providing sufficient lighting even in low lit conditions.

 

Pros

  • Sleek and attractive design
  • Crisp 1080p display
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Sufficient battery life

Cons                                                                                                     

  • Hard to reach rear ports

 

 

5. Best laptops for Graphic Designers

Microsoft Surface Book 2

The first Surface Book exceeded expectations when it was launched nearly four years ago. The new Surface Book 2 that was launched recently is proving to be a formidable competitor in the market with impressive features. Unlike other 2-in-1 machines, the Surface Book 2 is really two device in one due to its removable keyboard. Yes! The keyboard can be completely separated from the display and use it as a tablet. Even though the Surface 2 maintains the original design, several features have been added. For instance, the hinges are studier than its predecessor.

This is arguably the best laptop for graphic design tasks on the market today. It comes with a Coffee Lake Core i7-8650 processor, 6GB GeForce GTX 1060 and 16GB RAM making it incredibly fast and powerful. Furthermore, it has sufficient battery life and brittle display with high colour accuracy. These features enable the laptop to handle any graphic design work.

Microsoft Surface Book 2
Microsoft Surface Book 2
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Besides these powerful features, the Surface Book 2 comes with sufficient storage. It is amazing how Microsoft was able to load this laptop with 512 GB SSD storage which is more than enough for a 2-in-1 hybrid. Interestingly, space can be upgraded to 1TB SSD.

 

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Incredibly powerful
  • Lightweight and slim

Cons

  • Very pricey

 

Dell Precision 7530

The Precision 7530 is the latest offering in the 7000 series. Dell advertises it as the most powerful workstation in the market. While this claim by Dell is debatable, its specification is up to the task of graphic design and more. For instance, the base model has a Core i5-8300H processor which can be configured with a Core i9-8950HK CPU and Quadro P3200 GPU.

The magnesium alloy used in the chassis helps to reduce the overall weight of the laptop. Additionally, it helps to maintain a rigid frame, especially around the edges and corners. This machine feels sturdier than most of its competitors like ThinkPad series.

Dell Precision 7530
Dell Precision 7530
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It has a backlit keyboard with comfortable keys that enhance the typing experience. The Numpad keys are adequately spaced unlike in most 15-inch laptops. In addition, the touchpad which is smooth and responsive is strategically located.

 

Pros

  • Extremely powerful
  • Smooth and responsive touchpad
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Workstation Specifications

Cons

  • Slightly bulky

 

Huawei MateBook X Pro

The X Pro is a very powerful machine that can be used for graphic design. It is arguably the speediest and most luxurious laptop on the market. Even though it expensive, you will get value for every penny spent. It has capabilities that none of its competitors in the same price can provide.

The X Pro is constructed from aluminium and measures 14.6mm at its thickest. It is so slim that the USB port is squeezed near the rear hinge. The combination of the nearly bezel-less display and wide trackpad leaves no wasted space.

It is available in two main models that use the 8th generation components. The first model comes with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM AND 256GB SSD storage. However, it lacks a dedicated GPU. The second version features a Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and Nvidia MX150 GPU. Both models can suit the needs of a graphic designer.

Huawei MateBook X Pro
Huawei MateBook X Pro
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When you open the lid, you will be amazed by two main features-the 3:2 display that covers almost every inch of the entire lid and the large touchpad. The display employs the IPS technology and is covered with a Corning Gorilla Glass. According to Huawei, the display has a 100% sRGB colour gamut and 1500:1 contrast ratio.

 

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Sufficient battery life
  • Amazing display

Cons

  • Limited ports

 

6. Best developer laptops

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

For a long time, the Surface Pro series have been criticized because of their short battery life. However, the new Surface Pro 6 has improved features including longer battery life. Another important feature that has been upgraded is the 8th generation quad-core Core i5 processor which delivers more speed. The lack of a USB-C or the Thunderbolt 3 ports is still an issue, but overall it is a good choice for developers.

Although the Surface Pro 6 maintains the original design formula of the previous models, slight changes have been included. It comes with a matte-black finish option which enhances the beauty of the laptop and makes it look slimmer than ever before. The exterior has a slightly gritty texture that provides an excellent grip.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
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The magnesium chassis helps to significantly reduce the weight of the laptop. It weighs just 1.7 pounds as a tablet and slightly over 2.4 pounds with the keypad attached. Even though it is extremely slim, it is still sturdy and stable when placed on any surface. The Surface Pro 6 features a 12.3-inch PixelSense display which is among the best displays in the 2-in-1 laptops. The display is not only sharp at 2736 x 1824pixels, but it is also remarkably bright with great colour balance.

Pros

  • Quad-core processor
  • Slim and lightweight
  • Amazing display

Cons

  • Limited ports

 

Asus Chromebook C302 Flip

Asus has made a name for itself as one of the best manufacturers of compact Chromebooks. This slab of a machine comes with incredible battery life and a flexible design that enables you to twist it and use it as a tablet. On top of that, it is extremely light compared to its competitors like the Acer Chromebook Spin 11.

If you are a freelancer developer, you should consider this laptop due to its portability. It features a compact and slender design that makes it fit in almost most laptop backpacks or even in a good-sized handbag. It only weighs 2.6 pounds beating most of its rivals. You will need to dig deeper in your pockets to get a Windows machine that is this slim.

Asus Chromebook C302 Flip
Asus Chromebook C302 Flip
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In terms of performance, the Chromebook flip comes in different configurations. The base model has Intel core m3-6Y30 dual-core processor, 4GB LPDDR3 RAM, and 64GB eMMC storage. These specifications have been complemented with a 12.5-inch display full HD with 1920x 1080 resolution.

Pros

  • Tactile keyboard
  • Elegant slim design
  • Gorgeous screen

Cons

  • Price on the higher side for a Chromebook

 

Lenovo Yoga 710-15

Until the Yoga 710 was launched, it was extremely difficult to find a 2-in-1 under $1000. Even though it is cheaper, it competes with other pricier notebooks such as the HP spectre x360. Furthermore, it has a beautiful display, responsive keyboard, and strong performance.

Lenovo Yoga 710-15
Lenovo Yoga 710-15
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It has an all-black aluminum body that provides a minimalistic aesthetic. The lid is plain except for the Yoga logo embedded in silver and the Lenovo seal in grey. When you open the lid, you meet a 15.6-inch 1080p display with very small bezels. In terms of performance, the Yoga 710 is equipped with a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and 256GB SSD.

 

Pros

  • Attractive display
  • Strong battery life
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • Limited ports

 

Conclusion

Without an appropriate laptop, programming work can be very frustrating. There is a huge variety of laptops to choose from depending on your needs and budget. Any product from the list above can be a great choice for any programming work. In particular, the Apple MacBook Pro is able to handle any programming task. Even though it is a bit pricey, it is a great machine to work with. However, if you are on a budget, the HP 255 Series can still serve your programming needs.

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